Jan Hendrik’s personal guide to the City of Lights
Just a few months ago, I travelled to Paris again, as I so often do to reconnect with what I still consider one of the great epicentres of culture and cuisine. But every time, just before landing, I wonder if the City of Lights would still captivate me as it did the last time I visited. Will the flavours of my favourite food still be as rich and satisfying? Despite having visited many times before, the excitement of returning to this enchanting city seems to never fade. And after leaving, I am assured that the City of Lights will never disappoint.
Therefore, I pay special tribute this week sharing a list of my favourite restaurants, cafés and petit bars I discovered over the years travelling to this beautiful city. I hope you too will experience her in all of her splendour.
Little Red Door Cocktail Bar | 60 Rue Charlot, 75003 Paris
This cosy night spot has made the World’s 50 Best Bars list every year for a decade, which it achieves by constantly challenging the norms of the classical cocktail. Interestingly, Little Red Door’s approach is very similar to that of a restaurant, as their mixologists follow a farm-to-glass approach, using only seasonal ingredients sourced from ethical suppliers. There’s a no-nonsense side to this bar that’s hard to resist, with cocktails bearing the name, Carrot. What follows, however, is everything but boring.
Hemingway Bar | The Ritz, 15 Pl. Vendôme, 75001 Paris
Simply put, the Hemingway Bar is one of the most famed (and smallest) bars in the world. As you might have guessed, it gets its name from the acclaimed American author of A Farewell to Arms and A Moveable Feast. Today, the bar is home to renowned bartender and author Colin Field, who is frequently ranked the best in the world. To complete the picture, order yourself a Sidecar, an absolute classic cocktail of cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice hailing from the Prohibition Era. How perfect?
Candelaria | 52 Rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris
Although Candelaria is technically a taqueria, it’s famous for its agave-based cocktails. Bright red barstools set against a backdrop of pure white greet you as you enter, willing you to indulge in that shredded pork and black-bean burrito before you slip through the door at the back to disappear into the bar for the night. There’s something so irresistible about a place that feels secret, even if it isn’t.
Bar Josephine | 45 Bd Raspail, 75006 Paris
The Hotel Lutetia, home to Bar Josephine, is one of the few hotels of the Left Bank classified with the distinction, Palace. With its recent renovations, though, which marry its Belle Époque roots (think beautiful Art Nouveau frescoes and light, wooden parquet floors) with a bright and modern flair, there’s nothing pretentious about the space. The best time to enjoy their array of classic cocktails is over weekends, when the bar hosts live jazz performances.
Bonhomie | 22 Rue d’Enghien, 75010 Paris
Although it prides itself on the quality of its seasonal meat and fish dishes, Bonhomie has become famous for its cocktails, which, like its cuisine, are inspired by the Mediterranean. Its drinks repertoire draws inspiration from the laissez-faire lifestyle of the region and its array of pastel-tinted colours, a refreshing gust of Riviera air in the heart of Paris.
Du Pain et des Idées | 34 Rue Yves Toudic, 75010 Paris, France
To say it’s not easy for a bakery to stand out in the boulangerie capital of the world is an understatement, but Du Pain et Des Idées is widely regarded as one of he best bakeries in Paris. The site on which it was built in 2002 dates back to 1875 – an official monument from the post-Hausmann era.
Les Deux Magots Café | 6 Pl. Saint-Germain des Prés, 75006 Paris
Founded in 1812 and relocating to its current address in 1873, there can be no doubt that this Parisian institution is not to be missed. What this famous café has seen could fill a book, not least because it once boasted regulars such as French philosophers Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as Picasso and Hemingway (to name a few). And after all this time, it remains one of the best places for people watching, coffee and croissants.
Les Philosophes | 28 Rue Vieille-du-Temple, 75004 Paris
Located at the heart of the Marais neighbourhood, Les Philosophes is that perfect lunch spot after a morning spent at the Pompidou Centre. Here you’ll find classic French fare, like onion soup and steak tartare, but the salads are a welcome burst of freshness on a day when you crave something crisp and healthy.
Mokonuts Café | 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 75011 Paris
Mokonuts | 5 Rue Saint-Bernard, 75011 Paris
My good friend and fellow Niçoise Rosa Jackson recommended Mokonuts to me. Of course I had to ask her to spell it, but I made a point of popping into this intimate lunch and pastry shop the next time I was in Paris. Unusual for the city, it felt like walking into someone’s home, in this case, that of Japanese-Lebanese couple Moko Hirayama and Omar Koreitem. With an open-plan kitchen and a warm, inviting atmosphere, this is a foodie’s dream..
Juveniles | 47 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris
Located just around the corner from the Louvre and a block from the Royal Palace Gardens (across the street from Ellsworth,) Marlene van der Westhuizen suggested this gem to me. The area might be posh, but this is a super casual respite from the hustle and bustle of one of the city’s swankiest areas.
Restaurant Villalys | 30 Rue de Montpensier, 75001 Paris
Given France’s longtime connection with Morocco, it’s not easy singling that one place in Paris that serves the best Moroccan food. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Villalys, located in the Palais Royale gardens, serves the best tagine in the city.
Au Pied de Cochon | 6 Rue Coquillière, 75001 Paris
Named after a pig’s foot, Au Pied de Cochon (literally translated as, “to the foot of the pig”) lives up to every expectation. For the epicurious, this Parisian institution is not to be missed, as you’re unlikely to find better pig snout or offal sausage anywhere in the city. Read more about this historic restaurant here.
L’avant Comptoir | 3 Carrefour de l’Odeon Sixth Arrondissement, 75006 Paris
Chef Yves Camdeborde opened this standing-room-only wine bar in 2009, and instantly climbed the most-popular-eateries-in-Paris list – remaining in the top tier ever since. Choosing what to eat can be overwhelming, as the choices are many, but the quality of the food and the upbeat atmosphere make for a great choice when deciding what to do for dinner. No reservations.
Lai’Tcha | 7 Rue du Jour, 75001 Paris
At the foot of Église St-Eustace, this casual restaurant serves delicious, straight-to-the-point Chinese cuisine made with the finest ingredients. On the menu, there’s a variety of dim sums, fresh homemade noodles, Imperial sautéed beef and an excellent salad of Galican beef, lamb’s lettuce and oyster mushrooms.
Tavline | 25 Rue du Roi de Sicile, 75004 Paris
If your Hebrew didn’t give it away (tavline means spice), this Israeli Michelin-star restaurant in Paris specialises in delectable dishes from the Middle East and beyond, starting in Israel, but also venturing to Lebanon and Morocco for inspiration. Spices hail from Shuk Ha’Carmel – the largest market in Tel Aviv – and dishes include ksitsot daguim (spiced grilled fish on a bed of lentils with yoghurt and candied lemon), and memoulam (lamb-stuffed onions), the chef’s mother’s recipe.
Bianco | 60 Rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris
Rue Montorgueil is my personal village in Paris. It’s one of the most exciting food streets, whether looking for a spot to wine and dine or shop for a range of kitchen implements. Bianco is one of the busiest restaurants on the street, partly because of the quality of its authentic Italian cuisine and partly because of its jovial atmosphere. The mini-pizzas are a Bianco signature, but the risotto is also not to be missed. Don’t leave before trying the tiramisu.
Kubri Restaurant | 108 Rue Amelot, 75011 Paris
The French – Parisians in particular – are no strangers to Lebanese cuisine, and more than familiar with classics like hummus, falafel, shawarma and kefta. But Kubri broadens that horizon by introducing the Parisian palate to a broader range of traditional Lebanese flavours and textures by giving them a subtly modern makeover with new combinations.
Girafe Restaurant | 1 Pl. du Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, 75016 Paris
There are so many ways to get your Emily-in-Paris, picture-postcard fixes in the City of Lights, that it seems almost unnecessary to suggest another one, but Girafe can’t be overlooked for its priceless view of the Eiffel Tower and chic Trocadero address. If you’re looking for the ultimate place to celebrate a special occasion, this is it. I would suggest ordering a variety of dishes to share – tapas style – not forgetting the oysters.
L’Hôtel Bar | 13 Rue des Beaux Arts, 75006 Paris
Don’t be fooled by its generic name. This is Paris, after all. The list of famous former guests of the Hotel could fill a book, and include Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Jorge Louis Borges, as well as Oscar Wilde, who lived here for the last two years of his life until his death in 1900. The cocktails themselves each seem to come with a story, like the The Usual (violet, champagne and lime, adored by Tilda Swinton), Grandma Hendricks (green tea, gin and St Germain served in a teacup), Dorian Grey and Born to be Wilde.